Tag Archives: South Georgia Cemeteries

Seminole Chickee Grave Shelter, Ware County

Chickee is the Seminole word for house, and these iconic shelters are still scattered throughout Florida. To my knowledge, this chickee in the Carter Cemetery is the only such grave shelter in Georgia.

In addition to the construction, the shells marking the graves of George Washington Carter (25 October 1862-4 July 1934) and Millie Louvine Thrift Carter (18 January 1860-30 December 1947) honor a Native American ancestry. Mr. Carter, who was born on Cow House Island, was one of the pioneer settlers of the Okefenokee Swamp. The Thrifts were also early residents of the swamp.

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Filed under --WARE COUNTY GA--

Early Settlers Cemetery, 1881, Swainsboro

Over 80 of Swainsboro and Emanuel County’s earliest settlers are buried in this secluded downtown cemetery. It’s a great space for quiet reflection and if you’re a taphophile, you’ll enjoy it.

The triumphant arch marks the graves of John Calhoun Coleman (28 October 1844-1 January 1923) and wife Martha Sarah “Mattie” Moring Coleman (21 April 1858-15 September 1926). The angel memorializes their daughter, Juanita Coleman Smith (16 March 1874-18 May 1910). Mr. Coleman was one of the most prominent men in Emanuel County during his lifetime and was a Confederate veteran. He served in Company H, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, taking part in the Seven Days Battle, first and second battles of Cold Harbor, Harper’s Ferry, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, first and second battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysbur, and finally at Manassas Gap, where he was captured and held as a prisoner until the end of the war.

John Coleman Mitchell (25 April 1897-21 January 1901). Grandson of John Calhoun Coleman.

 

 

 

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Filed under --EMANUEL COUNTY GA--, Swainsboro GA

Revolutionary War Cemetery, Louisville

This secluded cemetery, historically known as Old Capitol Cemetery, is located on the western edge of Louisville on US Highway 221. Notable as the final resting place of two of the best-known politicians of early Georgia (one considered such a scoundrel that newspapers of the period cheered his passing with sarcastic obituaries), it also contains cenotaphs for men who fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, as well as early Louisville settlers.

Senator James Gunn (13 March 1753-30 July 1801) – Though the headstone notes his rank in the Georgia Militia, Gunn was, more importantly, one of Georgia’s first two United States Senators.

James Gunn came from Virginia to Savannah where he began practicing law. He was a captain of a volunteer brigade of dragoons in the Revolutionary War and was among General Anthony Wayne’s forces who helped drive the British from Savannah. He was made a brigadier general in the state militia after the Revolution. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1787 but did not serve. Along with William Few, he was one of Georgia’s first two U. S. Senators, elected as a Federalist in 1789. He attended Washington’s inauguration in New York City. Unfortunately, in 1794 Gunn was one of the primary figures in the Yazoo Land Fraud, having been an organizer of the Georgia Company which perpetrated the fraud. He delayed formal submission of the Georgia Company’s proposal to sell off western lands until after his reelection to the Senate. As soon as it became public, Gunn was the subject of outrage throughout the state but no formal charges were ever brought against him. Upon his death, just four months after his term in the Senate had ended, Gunn was ridiculed in obituaries around the state.  Gunn’s wife, Mary Jane Wright (6 December 1763-13 May 1796) of Savannah, committed suicide by drinking poison. She was buried at the family cemetery at Litchfield Plantation.

Though Gunn’s reputation is questionable, the damage to his gravestone is very unfortunate. It was carved by James Traquair, a Scottish immigrant who became a prominent stonecutter in Philadelphia. Traquair worked with America’s first professional architect, Benjamin Latrobe.

Roger Lawson Gamble (1787-20 December 1847) – Gamble grew up near Louisville and was admitted to the bar in 1815, having served as an officer in the War of 1812 and a member of the state house (1814-1815). He served as Georgia’s Attorney General from 1816-1822. He was elected as a Jacksonian to the 23rd Congress in 1832, serving one term. He was again elected, as a Whig, to the 27th Congress in 1841. He served as a judge of the Superior Court from 1845-1847. The crypt was carved by W. Glendinning, a stone mason active in Augusta in the mid-19th century. [Source 1859 Augusta City Directory].

John Gamble (1740- 1806) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – I’m unable to confirm that John Gamble is a relative of Roger Lawson Gamble but assume there to be a connection. In 1772, John emigrated to Brunswick, Georgia, on the Brittania.

Major Patrick Carr (? Ireland-1802) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Carr was present at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Roger Lawson (17 May 1730 or 1731-6 August 1803) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Captain Chesley Bostwick (1744-2 January 1808) – 7th Continental Georgia Battalion, Revolutionary War

Nathan Bostwick (26 January 1746-9 May 1817) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Bostiwick was born in Suffolk County, Virginia. He may have been the brother of Chesley, but this is not presently confirmed.

Phillip Scott (?-21 October 1817) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Private William Walker, Sr. (17 December 1762-2 February 1818) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Walker was born in Buckingham County, Virginia.

Aaron Tomlinson (1748-12 April 1828) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Captain Ambrose Wright (1745-1805) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Mary Hubbel Savage Wright (28 December1825-23 June 1854) – Mary was the first wife of Confederate Major General Ambrose Ransom “Rans” Wright, who was possibly the son of Captain Ambrose Wright.  She was the daughter of Dr. William & Mary Savage, of Augusta. She died in childbirth, and her twins are buried within this enclosure, as well. Though Findagrave notes that this may only be a memorial and that Mary may actually be buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, this seems unlikely, as the text of the stone notes that her remains are here. Investigation into the matter is needed to confirm.

Thompson Markers – Various members of the Thompson family, representing three wars, are memorialized here. It is possible that these are cenotaphs and the exact whereabouts of the decedents within the cemetery is unknown.

John Thompson and William Thompson are both listed with birthdates of 1750 and death dates of 1826, and with notice of service in the Continental Line, Revolutionary War.

William Thompson (1790-1872) – Captain, Johnson’s Company, Georgia Militia, War of 1812

Judith Price Thompson (1798-1840) – Wife of Captain William Thompson

Seaborn Jones Thompson (1827-1866) – Company H, 63rd Georgia Infantry, CSA

Joseph Maybank Jones (7 May 1804-5 January 1831) – Jones, a native of Liberty County, died near Louisville on his way home from the legislature in Milledgeville and was buried here.

Family of Owen (9 March 1806-27 January 1877) & Bdelia (11 March 1811-15 September 1884) McDermott . Fourteen more family members are buried here.

Seth Pierce (1756-1841) Revoultionary War Veteran & Obediah Pierce (1805-1884) – Cenotaph. Obediah’s three children are memorialzed, as well. His sons, Obediah, Jr., and John W. were Confederate soldiers, who appear to have died in service. His daughter, Susan Pierce Stevens, was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Dawson, Georgia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--, Louisville GA

Anjette Lyles, Georgia’s Most Infamous Female Serial Killer

Though largely forgotten today, the story of Anjette Lyles and her morbid crime spree was one of the most sensational in 20th-century Georgia. Lyles was born Anjette Donovan in 1925 to a relatively prosperous family. She married Ben Lyles in 1947 and soon after the birth of the couple’s first daughter, Marcia, went to work in the Lyles family’s popular downtown Macon restaurant with Ben’s mother, Julia. Ben, a veteran of World War II, apparently had a drinking and gambling problem and sold the restaurant far below market value in 1951 to pay off a gambling debt. Anjette, who had recently given birth to the couple’s second daughter, Carla, was furious that Ben hadn’t consulted her before the sale. Ben suddenly fell ill in December 1951. Doctors at the Veterans Administration ran a battery of tests but were unable to determine the cause of his sickness. He never recovered and died on 25 January 1952. After his death, Anjette moved in with her parents while learning the ins-and-outs of the restaurant business and saving money. She bought back the Lyles Restaurant in 1955 and renamed it “Anjette’s”. It quickly became one of Macon’s most popular eateries. She hired her mother-in-law, Julia, to help bring back some of the old Lyles customers.

In July 1955, Anjette went on a vacation with one of the restaurants new regulars, pilot Joe Neal [Buddy] Gabbert and upon their return to Macon, many were shocked to learn that they had been married on the trip. Rumors began to circulate almost immediately, as Buddy was gone most of the time. It didn’t help that Anjette was a big flirt and was known to dabble in “black magic”. Restaurant staff reported that she had been seen whispering to black candles when she thought no one was around. In October 1955, Buddy went to the hospital for a minor operation on his wrist. When he returned home to convalesce, he developed a fever and a rash which spread over his body. Doctors were at a loss as to explain the origin of the rash and after his condition continued to deteriorate, he died on 2 December 1955. Shortly after Buddy’s death, Anjette changed her name back to Lyles and bought a house and new car with the insurance settlement. This raised eyebrows in Macon. Julia Lyles moved in with Anjette to be with her grandchildren but the women did not get along well. Anjette wanted Julia to make a will but Julia refused. In 1957, Julia became ill and was hospitalized, dying on 29 September 1957.

In March 1958, Marcia became violently sick at the restaurant and people in Macon began to be suspicious about Anjette. Marcia remained hospitalized with hallucinations and failing kidneys. She died on 4 April 1958. A coroner’s inquest initially found no indication of foul play but an anonymous letter from a restaurant employee suggested that Anjette had kept ant poison on hand and perhaps this should be investigated. The ant poison contained arsenic and this led the coroner to order the exhumation of the prior victims, who all showed signs of arsenic poisoning. A month after Marcia’s death, while Anjette was in the hospital for varicose veins, she was arrested and charged with the murders of both her husbands, her mother-in-law, and Marcia. Her trial in October 1958 was a media frenzy. She was found guilty and sentenced to death but Governor Ernest Vandiver, unwilling to be responsible for executing a white woman, had her declared insane and placed in Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, where she died in 1977.

Ironically, she was buried alongside Marcia and Ben, in the Donovan family plot at Coleman’s Chapel United Methodist Church cemetery near Wadley.

Jaclyn Weldon White’s Whisper to the Black Candle is the most comprehensive book on the subject to date.

 

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Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--

Gravesite of John Abbot, Bulloch County

John Abbot was one of the most important naturalists and artists working in early America, but because he generally eschewed publication and most of his work was only available to wealthy patrons and collectors, he has not been as appreciated as other notables of his era, including Alexander Wilson and John James Audubon. Credit is due the Georgia Historical Society for commissioning a delightful memorial marking Abbot’s burial place*, installed at the old McElveen Family Cemetery in Bulloch County. Publication of a collection of his ornithological paintings, John Abbot’s Birds of Georgia, by the Beehive Press in 1997, has done much to advance his reputation.

*-[detail, above]. Mary Stuart. Bronze Relief, after the circa 1804 self-portrait “John Abbot of Savannah, Georgia, America”. 1956. It is the only known image of the naturalist.

Born in London in 1751 to James and Ann Abbot, John was influenced from an early age by the impressive art collection of his lawyer father. Though the elder Abbot expected his son to read law, he also encouraged his interest in art and natural history, hiring the noted engraver Jacob Bonneau to instruct him. In his late teens, John Abbot clerked for his father’s law office but was far too distracted by his passion for natural history and art to give it serious consideration as a career.

He set out for Virginia aboard the Royal Exchange in 1773 and upon arrival resided briefly with Parke & Mary Goodall. By 1775 rising unrest in the colony prompted Abbot to leave, settling with Parke Goodall’s cousin William and his family in St. George Parish, Georgia (present-day Burke County). Sometime during the Revolutionary period he married a young woman named Sarah (maiden name unknown) and their son John, Jr., was born around 1779. During this time Abbot was actively collecting and illustrating Georgia’s insects and a large number were acquired by Sir James Edward Smith, founder of London’s Linnaean Society. Smith commissioned hand-colored engravings of the original Georgia watercolors and published them in 1797 as the  Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia Collected from Observations by John Abbot. It is considered the first major publication devoted to American entomology.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Sassafras, John Abbot, from the Natural History…, 1797. Public Domain Image.

The Abbots remained in Burke County, where John likely taught at Waynesboro’s Burke County Academy, until moving to Savannah in 1806. He was often in transit throughout the central Savannah River area in pursuit of specimens and new material. Sarah’s death in 1817 sent Abbot into a deep state of grief and poor health consumed him for at least two years, during which he was inactive. He finally settled in Bulloch County in 1818 and resumed collecting and drawing for patrons. He lived out his last years on the property of his friend William E. McElveen. His exact date of death is unknown, but thought to be 1839 or 1840.

In what has to be some of the most inspring language on any memorial in the state, the Georgia Historical Society notes of John Abbot: Talented artist and searching naturalist of birds and insects. – As a tribute to him and his work may you who stand here find pleasure in protecting the natural beauty of Georgia. – John Abbot lies buried in this woodland cemetery because of his love of nature and his long friendship with the McElveen family.

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--

National Champion Eastern Red Cedar, Coffee County

In Lone Hill United Methodist Cemetery near West Green, you can find an Eastern red cedar as big as a Live oak. [Maybe a younger Live oak, but you get the point].  Its age is unknown, but since red cedars are notoriously slow growers, it’s likely it was already of respectable size when some of the early congregants of Lone Hill buried their loved ones in its shade. As it has grown, it has begun to gently displace some of those graves.

American Forests, the non-profit organization that certifies big trees, has declared this Eastern red cedar*, [Juniperus virginiana] the National Champion. This means it’s the largest known example of the species. Recorded dimensions are: Height-57′. Crown spread-75′. Circumference-234″.

*- Also written as redcedar or red-cedar.

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Filed under --COFFEE COUNTY GA--

Della Burch Monument, Telfair County

This exceptional monument, located in the Blockhouse Baptist Church Cemetery, was commissioned by Dr. Geiger Augustus Burch upon the death of his wife, Della Smith Burch (30 April 1878-20 January 1914). Blockhouse Baptist was organized in 1877  and built on the site of the blockhouse built by General David Blackshear during the War of 1812.

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Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--